Sen. Bill Cassidy tests positive for COVID-19

Cassidy becomes the second doctor in the Senate, after Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, to test positive

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., disinfects the gavel before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing for Mark W. Menezes, nominee to be deputy secretary of energy, in the Dirksen Building on May 20, 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., disinfects the gavel before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing for Mark W. Menezes, nominee to be deputy secretary of energy, in the Dirksen Building on May 20, 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted August 20, 2020 at 3:50pm

Sen. Bill Cassidy is under quarantine for 14 days after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Louisiana Republican said he was notified Wednesday evening that he’d been exposed to someone with the disease.

“I am strictly following the direction of our medical experts and strongly encourage others to do the same,” Cassidy said in a statement.

His office said he is adhering to all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations and is notifying people with whom he has been in contact recently.

Cassidy is among the 1,034 COVID-19 cases reported to the Louisiana Department of Health since Wednesday. The total number of cases reported to the state is 140,821, according to the department.

Cassidy is the fourth senator to disclose having tested positive for the illness or its antibodies, along with Kentucky Republican Rand Paul and Democrats Tim Kaine of Virginia and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

[Rand Paul tests positive for coronavirus, under quarantine]

Cassidy is a gastroenterologist and was known for carrying hand sanitizer around with him long before the current pandemic, even offering some to reporters when he stopped to talk in the Capitol.

He was a leader in banishing the handshake in the Senate before COVID-19 became a full-blown pandemic. He policed his colleagues who instinctively reached for a handshake, offering his elbow instead.

When asked how he was responding to constituents who visited in late February and early March and wanted to shake his hand or give him a hug, Cassidy said Louisianans are well-prepared for the alternative of bumping elbows because they may have been to a crawfish boil.

“At a crawfish boil,” he said, reaching his elbow out to meet the elbow of a reporter, “that’s how you shake hands.”

“Because you’ve got crawfish all over your hands and you want to keep eating crawfish. So you bump elbows,” Cassidy explained.

More than 60 members of Congress have disclosed a decision to quarantine, a positive test for COVID-19 or antibodies, or that they came in contact with someone with COVID-19.

In May, Kaine and his wife both tested positive for coronavirus antibodies. After testing positive for the flu, he continued to experience symptoms. He was not tested for the coronavirus when he was feeling ill in April because of the shortage of tests at that time.

Casey began donating blood plasma in late May, after a test revealed “substantial levels of COVID-19 antibody” in his blood.

Paul, an ophthalmologist, shocked the Capitol campus on March 22 when he became the first senator to test positive for COVID-19, forcing some colleagues into precautionary quarantine.